Loc: gravel island
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4 tent
Dist: 38,6 km
Start: 08:45 End: 18:20
Around four o’clock in the morning, it sounded like a dozen huge trucks delivered gravel to the next door oil site. Maybe they really did, as people here work in two shifts around the clock with twenty-four hours of daylight. It feels somehow like being on the moon with the flat marsh or gravel nature, the white ice belt lurking in a double mirage behind the barrier islands, the many industrial oil sites as space stations everywhere making weird unnatural noises. Still, the carious do not seem to have problems hopping around everywhere. Amazing how people (ab)use the nature with necessary buildings and constructions to make use of the nature.
It is paddling from headland to headland today, an oil works point, Milne Point, Kavearak Point, Beechey Point. Hugging the bay shores makes not much sense. We stop on each headland for a brief rest, just to take on the next one for another five or six kilometers. In the distance. Behind, we spot three similar looking space shuttles – or are those cars? Or maybe large boats? A look with the binoculars confirms the latter. Plot boats? Military? But probably oil works working horses. We just round the point when the first ship starts taking off. What? Coming closer, the second one backs up from the shore, and soon the third. I make a sign with my arms, ‘So what is this meant to be?’ And the second and third boat finally stop – maybe because they identifies us as women?
We come alongside of one of them and they ask about our whereabouts as much as we do. The three similar ships are working for oil spill prevention, and after a bit of chatting, one guy asks the magic question, “Do you need anything?” Well, water would be nice to refill! Soon a large plastic bag full of small water bottles is lowered down to my open cockpit. “Sorry for the plastic!” the guy shouts. It seems like they do not have anything larger. No problem. And now we like some fresh pineapples, strawberries, grapes…I smile. And soon, another goodie bag with mixed ingredients is lowered down. Thanks so much! The guys on the third boat also wave with a goodie bag. So nice, are we looking so needy and hungry? They made our day!
They need to head off soon, and we quickly land for x-mas day. It came down to about a dozen water bottles, a banana, a kiwi, six bags of chips, six peanut butter jelly sandwiches, two deli sandwiches with ham, tomato, cucumber (yuck), lettuce and mayonnaise (yeah!), two yoghurts, a small pot of apple sauce and string cheeses. God bless the oil works cantinas!
We have a look at the two houses of the old Beechey Point homestead, particularly one is amazing, but also taken over by animals like foxes. They messed around everywhere. An old paper is dated 1975. All those outpost sites have their thriving times behind. No one likes to have such a life anymore. And maybe the growing view of oil works neighbors did not motivate the family very much to keep on living off the land.
We paddle another two hours and aim for Point Storkersen as I do not trust the islands inside the next big delta. But a moderate headwind is up for the crossing, and we feel like turning in once one of the islands looks trustworthy solid and high enough for a night’s stay. This was the best choice ever, as the island is all gravel with a perfect flat area which gives a clean campsite. It is fully bug- and bear-free and has even a freshwater pond. Shallow, but the water is friendly heated for a whole body wash. What else do we need! We do tiny checkups and repairs in the friendly temperatures and sunshine, but are physically quite worn. The wind today was not as friendly as yesterday, but still fine. But yesterday’s fifty-six kilometers are still in our bones, and we fancy an earlier night’s rest.